Perhaps it’s those old parlour songs. Just a song at twilight/When the lights are low/And the flickering shadows/softly come and go… Perversely, it reminds me of a childhood joke book. What’s a clown’s favourite song? Jester song at twilight… Or In the gloaming, oh, my darling, when the lights are dim and low… We sang that one in my very first church choir, when I was eight or nine, far too young to be singing will you think of me and love me/as you did once long ago? I enjoyed it, all the same. I’ve always liked melodrama, and a comfortable, melancholy nostalgia. There’s no real regret to it; it’s a musical convention that goes along with the apassionata and the con molto sentimento. Loves are always lost, the singer is always mourning the days gone by. Even the Lost Chord flooded the crimson twilight. The Victorians loved the twilight, and I have an unashamed fondness for the Victorians.
Perhaps it’s Anne of Green Gables. Nobody wrote twilight like L. M. Montgomery, and that’s part of my dreamy, romantic adolescence. Perhaps it’s simply that twilight was my own time. School done, supper done, and just enough time before bed to go and hide in the garden and enjoy the cool. Perhaps twilight has been nostalgic ever since God went walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Perhaps twilight has always told us of what we’ve lost, and has always reassured us that we are, none the less, safe without it. Night is falling, but you see the stars, and the lights in the windows?
This is the right time of year to enjoy twilight. It’s still warm enough to sit outside as darkness falls, and darkness falls early enough to want to sit out there in the deepening blue, looking for the first star and the delicate nail-clipping moon. A week from now, my in-laws will be lighting the candles on the balcony and we’ll be sitting out and quietly catching up with the family news – and the news of the town, because they’ve lived in the same place for long enough that my husband will have been at school with the person who was on the tills at Tesco today, who said had we heard that…? (I always feel slightly envious of that. It’s a long, long time since I saw any of my first choir.) And old stories will be told, and new ones. It is good to be together when night falls.
Twilight, and evening bell, and after that the dark…